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Britannia's Wolf: The Dawlish Chronicles: September 1877 - February 1878 Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
Then I discovered Richard Dawlish, a man of his times, but with that same grim determination and in particular the one to rise in his structured society. More ruthless than Hornblower, and certainly less pious, he goes well beyond his duty in order to succeed but maintains a firm moral compass throughout.
Yet he still has the hang-ups of his age: a man in a man’s world, an innate snobbism when he finds himself vulnerable to an emotional connection with a woman several ranks below him. Yet he recognises in her a steadfastness, sensuality and courage that are deeply attractive…
The detail and deft description are excellent. Although I learned a great deal about steam driven vessels and the impact of the new technology of the time, I never felt I was receiving a lesson in hydraulics. The story was vivid, nothing spared, and I drank in the description of a campaign I didn't know much about. Chapeau, Mr Vanner!
I have the next episode on my Kindle…
Nicholas Dawlish is an engaging hero: selfless, self-doubting, resourceful but fallible. He's sent on a secret mission to intervene in the Russo-Turkish War - and from there, it's a breathless, convincing, nerve-shredding adventure in which Dawlish and his engaging band of Turkish marines, cavalrymen and sailors race across the Black Sea to prevent Istanbul falling to the Czar. There's the beginnings of a love story, which I look forward to reading more about in the sequels, and a sense that Dawlish is to play a greater part in the Great Game of Victorian military machinations.
Most of all, it's the historical, naval and military detail that sweeps you up: the narrative is exuberantly paced, the research impeccable but lightly worn, and you feel as tired and exhilarated as Dawlish when it's all done.
Much historical research has gone into the writing - and it shows.
Author is clearly dedicated to producing a refined reading experience.
`We don't want to fight but by jingo if we do...
`We've got the ships, we've got the men, and got the money too!
`We've fought the Bear before... and while we're Britons true,
`The Russians shall not have Constantinople...'
(Chorus to Macdermott's War Song, GW Hunt, 1878)
The background to this novel is the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-8, of which I suspect most British people know little, perhaps not even that this where we got the word `Jingoism'. Vanner has clearly studied it in great depth, and appears to have the political and strategic background off pat. Briefly, Russia, on a pretext of saving her co-religionists in Bulgaria from Moslem atrocity and tyranny, attacked Turkey and pressed on in order to put the Ottoman Empire out of business once for all by taking Istanbul. It had tried and failed to do in the 1850s, but Britain and France decided that a Russia with unfettered access to the Mediterranean could not be tolerated, still less perhaps the chaos that would result from the resulting power vacuum in the Middle East.
Vanner's hero, Commander Nicholas Dawlish RN, has been sent to Turkey to take charge of naval matters in the eastern end of the Black Sea and so help to frustrate Russia's advance. Vanner has the technology weighed off, too, in his description of the warships of the time and their armament, and the action cracks along at a rapid pace, pulling the reader into such a credible narrative that one almost forgets this is fiction. The motivation of the British Government is thus to support Turkey covertly so as to avoid having to intervene overtly.Read more ›
Britannia's Wolf does not disappoint. Dawlish is a suitably Victorian hero - a complex individual with all the virtues and some of the vices of his period and background. He leads a cast of complex, interesting characters - scheming royals, plucky women, shadowy threats, bloodthirsty brigands, heroic men and some ordinary people struggling to live through interesting times.
Vanner brings the period and the settings to life. He clearly knows his history and his technology backwards and the book is filled with interesting vignettes of information that never threaten to take over the story or hinder the narrative.
An excellent debut novel - I look forward to the next in the series.
Most recent customer reviews
Action from the get go. A fine military adventure in an unusual war. Real characters acting as they would in the height of Queen Victoria's reign.Published 9 months ago by Mr. B. Waterhouse
I've been looking for a novel set in the age of ironclads, and this is exactly what I was looking for! Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
A cracking good tale, set in a period that other naval authors haven't touched - when sail was giving way to steam and breech-loading artillery was becoming the norm at sea as well... Read morePublished 15 months ago by John Prigent
Occasionally a book comes along which is strikingly different, exceptional; it might be the story content, the characters, the quality of research, the cohesiveness of the writing,... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Alan Lawrence
'Britannia's Wolf' is set in 1877 as the age of sail is giving way to the age of steam. The hero (for hero he is) Richard Dawlish finds himself with his first command, a modern... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Tom Williams
A wonderfully written story which I found almost impossible to put down. Whilst maintaining the excitement the author provided a great History lesson. Read morePublished on 7 Jun. 2015 by Mr. P. N. Hugo